I sit on my bed, knotting up the hospital-blue sheets with fidgety hands. When I checked into the hospital a few days ago, I was just me. Now I am a mother. I’m leaving the hospital with a baby and a car seat that I’m not quite sure how to work.
What if I can’t do this? I have no idea how to be a parent. The baby class taught us how to change a diaper and give a bath, but somehow this just isn’t enough preparation to bring a baby home from the hospital.
A few days later my mother in law, the baby pro, came to help out. She raised four boys and walks on water. I tried to learn everything about being a parent in those two short weeks.
I begged her not to leave.
Though parenting is one of the great joys in life, we can struggle under the weight of responsibility. If I could go back and sit on that hospital bed with my twenty-seven-year-old self, I would pass along a few things I’ve learned.
Things I’d Say to My Younger Self About Being a Mom
- You can do this. You don’t have to be an expert to begin the parenting journey. You will learn and grow far more than you can imagine at this moment. You can do lot’s of mommy things and you have wisdom in your heart. You are stronger than you know.(Philippians 4:13).
- Trust God to grow you into the best parent you can be. Parenting isn’t just for raising children–it is also for growing up parents. Never forget that God has entrusted you with children and will help you where you struggle if you will seek Him diligently (Proverbs 3:5-6).
- Pray every day. Pray for your children, for your parenting, and your marriage daily. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you pray and give you wisdom (Philippians 4:6-7).
- Teach your children to love God and live by His word.
- Be willing to wait. Today is not the end of the story. Some days and phases seem to inch along. Your baby will sleep through the night someday. The days of tantrums will pass. There will come a day when your child no will longer cling to your leg or grab hold of your shirt with messy hands. All the hard things will pass as you both grow through them. Be willing to wait and let nurture, time, and wisdom do it’s job. Some days may seem long, but the years are short. (Galatians 6:9)
- Find a godly mentor mom. Build a friendship with a more experienced Christian mom. These moms will encourage and advise you, helping you to overcome challenges and grow in faith. God is going to put some amazing women in your life to help you along the way (Titus 2:3-5).
- Set realistic goals and expectations. Even though your child watches Baby Einstein videos, they probably won’t learn algebra before preschool. Many frustrations of parenting come when we expect a two year old to have the self-control of a five year old. Unrealistic expectations frustrate kids as well (Ephesians 6:4).
- Don’t let nagging, complaining, or whining become the norm in your family. Negative attitudes are contagious and can become bad habits. Both kids and adults can struggle with these unpleasant behaviors. Never forget encouraging words empower our children (Philippians 2:14).
- Laugh often and let yourself play. Make the most of your days and enjoy the little blessings along the way. Master the art of building with blocks, cherish the hilarious things kids say, and put on a ballet tutu and twirl. It’s easy to get bogged down with chores, tasks, attitudes, and stress. Find joy in the small ordinary moments with laughter and play (Proverbs 17:22).
- Don’t underestimate the importance of rest. Tired children are cranky kids, and weary mommies get fussy too. Exhaustion warps perspective, making small problems seem like the end of the world. Don’t buy into lie that your child doesn’t need a regular bed time. Nap time is a blessed space; keep a rest time in your schedule even after your child stops sleeping during naps (Lamentations 3:22-23).
- Frequently evaluate your schedule, routines, and discipline. Do you need to reset boundaries, add a new challenge, simplify a crazy schedule? Undo chaos in your home is generally a sign you need to reset. Make adjustments as the need arises.
- Don’t neglect discipline and training. You are the parent, it’s your job to say no when needed and to enforce wise rules (Hebrews 12:11). Teach your children manners and model kindness. (Ephesians 4:32).
- Enjoy your kids every day. You will never have this day, this age again. Don’t let the hard moments cloud joy and appreciation of the gifts you have. Build the habit of seeking joy each day. Find something to appreciate, smile, laugh, or relish daily. A joyful heart creates energy and gives perspective.
- Your kids are amazing and so are you. Crafted by God, each one of us are made in His image. Enjoy the special qualities of your children and marvel at the wonder of God at work in their lives. (Psalm 139:13-16).
Make the most of each day as you love your children in the countless ways that best come from you, that special woman called Mommy. There is life, love, and wisdom that are your precious mother’s gift to your children. Each and every day look for the extraordinary in the small joys and little miracles that fill your life. After twenty-three years as a mom, these truths still guide my choices and encourage my heart.
Friends, I’m excited to share this wonderful parenting resource from my friend Melanie Redd. Enjoy the trailer for her new book, “How to Win Your Child’s Heart for Life.” Melanie will be joining me for a guest post and book giveaway in the near future.